Don’t flush your energy savings down the drain

Published on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 by By Emily Resch, Birch Bay Water & Sewer

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A great deal of attention centers on the importance of saving energy and water, with comparatively little thought about the direct relationship between water conservation and energy savings. 

Approximately 4 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption (75 billion kWh/yr) is used to move or treat water and wastewater, which does not take into account additional energy used to further treat, circulate, heat or cool water at the consumer level, according to a National Resource Defense Council study. 

The city of Blaine and Birch Bay Water and Sewer District are encouraging customers to become aware of the relationship between energy and water conservation and to adopt home practices that can achieve maximum savings. 

Where is the Energy Used?
Energy is needed to transport water from its source (groundwater or surface water), treat it, pipe it to businesses and residences, consume it in our homes and transport and treat it (in the form of wastewater) before disposal.  The majority of energy consumed in this sequence occurs when consumers use water in conjunction with such energy intensive activities as washing clothes and taking showers. Therefore, reducing water use in the home can also save significant amounts of energy. 

How Can You Save?
The simplest way to save both water and energy is to install water efficient plumbing fixtures.  Switching to low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators is the easiest way to achieve savings without breaking the bank.  Purchasing energy efficient dishwashers and clothes washers are more expensive options, but yield the most energy and water savings. 

When purchasing energy efficient appliances, look for the “WaterSense” label.  WaterSense labeled products must achieve independent, third-party testing and certification to prove they meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criteria for both efficiency and performance.  Also ask your local water utility about available rebates.

The city of Blaine currently offers a $25 rebate for dishwashers and a $25 or $70 rebate for clothes washers based on Bonneville Power Association guidelines and the type of water heater in your home.

Additional appliance rebates are expected to become available to all Washington residents by April 2010 through the Washington State Department of Commerce (DOC) as part of the Recovery Act.  The DOC is expected to be issuing $75 for EnergyStar Refrigerators and $100 for EnergyStar clothes washers until funding runs out. These rebates will supplement any additional rebates your local utility offers.